CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola
Governors whose victory in the March 18, 2023 election are being challenged in court are nervously waiting to know their fate from next week, findings by LEADERSHIP have revealed.
Sources indicate the governorship petition tribunals sitting in most of the states are putting finishing touches to their judgements.
Although no specific dates had been stated, checks by LEADERSHIP show that judgements would begin to come in from tribunals next week.
While the declarations of the judges will vary from state to state, what is certain is that all judgements will be delivered before the end of September.
According to the constitution, the governorship tribunals have 180 days (six months) to hear cases and pass judgement. Governorship petitions however terminate at the court of appeal.
Recall that the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) last week gave its judgement. Similarly, tribunals hearing petitions on the National Assembly elections have been churning out judgements since last week.
Meanwhile, there is anxiety within the ranks of the major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) ahead of the tribunal judgements.
The anxiety follows the uncertainty surrounding how the tribunal might rule based on the evidence and counter evidence presented by the parties in the suits, which could lead to the election being annulled, upturned or upheld.
This is more so that the outcome of the tribunal would begin a possible reshaping of the political map with regards to party dominance.
After the heated governorship race in 28 states, NNPP won Kano State. The ruling APC however won in 15 states, including seven re-elections for Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Mai Mala Muni (Yobe), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Babagana Zulum (Borno).
On the other hand, the party secured wins for eight new candidates. They are Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto (Sokoto), Dikko Radda (Katsina), Uba Sani (Kaduna), Bassey Otu (Cross River), Mohammed Bago (Niger), Hyacinth Alia (Benue), and Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi).
For PDP, there were eight victories, including two returning governors: Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).
Six first-term governors were also elected on the platform of the opposition party, with the emergence of Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom), Siminialayi Fubara (Rivers), Kefas Agbu (Taraba), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), and Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta).
In stunning upset, Dauda Lawal of the PDP unseated Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle (APC), while Labour Party’s Alex Otti defeated the PDP which has ruled the state since 1999.
States to watch at the Tribunals
The major contenders in the last governorship election held in Enugu State are PDP’s Peter Mbah; the Labour Party’s Chidioke Edeoga, APC’s Uche Nnaji, and former Information Minister, Frank Nweke Jnr of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
Out of the four contenders, only Edeoga is still at the tribunal, Nweke withdrew his petition at the tribunal while Nnaji’s petition was struck out at the tribunal.
Mbah won the election with 160,895 votes to defeat his closest challenger, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Edeoga, who scored 157,552 votes.
The candidate of APGA, Frank Nweke Jr, garnered 17,983 votes to come a distant third, while the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Uche Nnaji, placed fourth, with 14,575 votes.
Edeoga approached the tribunal, asking it to declare him winner on the allegation that Mbah forged his NYSC discharge certificate and that Mbah did not win the election.
The judgment of the tribunal is likely to be delivered before next Saturday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Abba Kabir Yusuf of NNPP as winner. The APC challenged the INEC declaration saying it was wrongly done.
Yusuf polled 1,019,602 votes against his major contender and APC candidate, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna who polled 890, 705. Gawuna had congratulated Abba but the APC challenged the declaration and directed its legal team to seek redress.
In a five-volume petition filed on April 9, the APC alleged that Kabir-Yusuf was not qualified to contest the election on the grounds that his name was not on the party’s register submitted to INEC. The APC also submitted that the NNPP did not score the majority of lawful votes in the election.
APC further stated that the Kano resident electoral commissioner (REC) was wrong in declaring Kabir-Yusuf the winner, adding that the margin of lead was not higher than the number of votes cancelled. The party is praying the tribunal to declare that NNPP had no candidate in the election.
Meanwhile, the tribunal is yet to announce the date to deliver judgement on the case, even after a mild drama in which the judges alleged attempts by politicians to bribe them.
The Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Isabo area of Abeokuta metropolis, the Ogun State, capital on Monday 11th September, 2023, announced that it was reserving, indefinitely, the judgement day on the petition filed before it by the PDP governorship candidate, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, against the candidate of APC and the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Announcing that both the petitioners and respondents would be notified of a date to be fixed for it, the Tribunal under the chairmanship of Hon. Justice Hamidu Kunaza further stated that it had adopted the written addresses of the disputing parties in the March 18 governorship election won by the incumbent governor, Abiodun according to the results declared by INEC.
INEC had declared Abiodun, who was standing a second term of office, as having polled 276, 298 votes to defeat his closest rival and PDP candidate, Hon. Adebutu, who scored a total of 262, 383 votes.
They were however, trailed behind by candidate of the Africa Democratic Party (ADP), Barrister Biyi Otegbeye who polled a total of 94, 754 votes.
Dissatisfied with the development, the PDP’s Adebutu approached the state’s Election Petition Tribunal which began sitting on June 5, 2023, alleging that the electoral victory that brought Abiodun into office for a second time was riddled with violence, irregularities and rigging.
Adebutu, in his petition marked EPT/OG/GOV/03/2023, accused INEC of non-compliance to the Electoral Act and corrupt practices during the election.
Adebutu’s other prayers through his counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), included the disqualification of Abiodun as a candidate in election; declaring him as winner of the poll on the ground that the process was sabotaged by thugs who allegedly deployed violence in over 99 polling units to disenfranchise over 40, 000 voters.
But countering in his written address through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Abiodun urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by Adebutu on the ground that the allegations of corrupt practices, non-compliance, multiple thumb printing of ballot papers, ballot stuffing, and forgery as alleged by Adebutu and his party, were not proved beyond any reasonable doubt.
Olanipekun submitted that the soul of the petition was not duly signed or stamped and, therefore, lacked merit to be adopted.
Urging the Tribunal to strike out the petition, Olanipekun alleged that “the document is not signed, not dated, no heading, no title, no identity, no signature, no stamp. The CTC has no signature”.
Also, in their separate submissions, the INEC’s Remi Olatubora (SAN) and that of the APC, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) specifically asked the tribunal to dismiss Adebutu’s petition on the ground that it was absolutely lacking in merit and being a waste of the tribunal’s precious time.
Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani of the ruling APC) and his major contender in the governorship election, Rt.Hon. Isah Ashiru Kudan of the PDP are the contenders at the Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Kaduna.
In the final results declared by INEC, Senator Sani of the APC scored a total of 730,002 votes to beat his closest challenger, PDP’s Ashiru, who polled 719,196 votes to place second in the election.
Not satisfied with the declaration of Senator Uba Sani as winner, the candidate of the PDP approached the tribunal challenging the results and declaration and prayed the tribunal, among others, to declare him as winner
The PDP candidate alleged discrepancies in the results announced and those uploaded in the IREV Porter and inconsistencies arising from some polling units and local governments.
Chairman of the three-member governorship election petitions panel Justice Victor Oviawie has reserved for judgment on a date to be communicated to the parties involved in the matter.
LEADERSHIP findings reveal that the judgement might come up some time next week.
With a margin of 49,029, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu of the APC, who scored 453,661, was declared winner of Sokoto State Governorship election against his major challenger, Alhaji Sa’idu Umar of the PDP, who scored 404,632 votes.
Not satisfied with the outcome, Umar and PDP approached the tribunal, demanding the nullification of the election, claiming that the election was flawed and did not comply with electoral laws.
The petitioner argued that the respondents were not qualified to contest the election and prayed that by that virtue of the non-qualification, votes were wrongfully attributed to them.
At its last sitting, the Sokoto Governorship Election Petition three-member tribunal led by Haruna Mshelia reserved judgment after hearing and adopting their respective final written addresses, adding that a date would be communicated to the parties this September.
Adamawa governorship election for 2023 was contested between PDP’s Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri who won the election by 430,861 votes to defeat Senator Aishatu Dahiru Binani of APC who scored 398,738 votes.
The election was postponed from its original date for supplementary and held three weeks after the presidential election and National Assembly elections.
Incumbent Governor Fintiri (PDP) was re-elected by a 3.75% margin over first runner-up and APC nominee — Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed.
The election was considered controversial with INEC failing to declare the results by 20 March due to delays in counting due to logistical problems and attempted electoral interference.
Later on 20 March, INEC declared the election inconclusive; Fintiri and the PDP rejected the declaration, having already alleged a plot to rig the election in favour of Ahmed Binani.
The commission set the supplementary election on 15 April, along with other supplementary elections nationwide.
As collation was still in progress on the early morning of 16 April, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hudu Ari, controversially declared Binani the victor.
In response, the national INEC called Ari’s declaration “null, void and of no effect” before summoning him to the INEC headquarters in Abuja and barring him from office.
On 17 April, returning officer Mohammed Mele declared the genuine results: in total, Fintiri obtained nearly 431,000 votes and 50% of the vote, with Binani receiving almost 399,000 votes and 47% of the vote.
At election tribunal, Sen. Binani prayed INEC to review the election results of the 18th March and cancel the election results in Fufore, the last LGA announced before the exercise was declared inconclusive.
Sources at the tribunal said judgement is likely to be delivered next week.
The main contenders in the ongoing governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, include Dr David Ombugadu and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who are referred to as the petitioners in the case and the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Sule of the APC.
INEC had declared Gov Sule winner of the poll, having polled 347,209 votes against Ombugadu’s 283,016
Dr Ombugadu and PDP had approached the tribunal, challenging the declaration of Governor Sule as the winner of the March 18 governorship election in the state.
The development had triggered protests from Ombugadu’s camp alleging that the poll outcomes for Nasarawa, Keffi, Awe and Lafia local government areas, were doctored to give the incumbent victory.
The petitioners had alleged that the declaration of Sule as the winner was done in error, accusing INEC officials of connivance.
At the last adjourned date of August 30, 2023, the chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi slated September 14, 2023 for all the counsel to adopt their final written addresses after which a tentative date would be announced for the judgement.
In Delta state, three governorship candidates are challenging the election of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori.
They are the candidates of the Labour Party, (LP), Mr Ken Pela, All Progressives Congress, (APC), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and Barr Kenneth Gbagi, of Social Democratic Party, (SDP).
In the case of Ovie Omo-Agege, the tribunal dismissed an application for the counting of ballot papers used for the March 18 gubernatorial election which were tendered as evidence.
Counsel to INEC, Prof. Joe Abugu had said that the commission stood by the result and figures in the declaration of Oborevwori as winner of the election.
Oborevwori’s counsel, Damian Dodo, (SAN), had objected to the application, saying that nowhere in the body of the petition did the petitioner seek a relief for a recount of ballot papers.
The three-man tribunal panel headed by Justice C.O Ahuchaogu, in its ruling said such discretion cannot be done in an oral application.
“There is no merit in this oral application for recount and it is hereby dismissed”, Ahuchaogu said.
However, tribunal reserved judgement in Barr Kenneth Gbagi’s petition seeking to disqualify Oborevwori from the contest.
Gbagi, the flag bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), is equally seeking the disqualification of the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ovie Omo-Agege, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Great Ogboru and Labour Party (LP), Ken Pela and their deputies.
Counsel to Gbagi, Mr. Mato Magaji Ibrahim, (SAN), urged the tribunal in his 79 page petition to disqualify Oborevwori on grounds of falsification of documents, electoral malpractices, non-compliance with the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act.
After all the counsels adopted their final written addresses, Justice H. C. Ahuchaogu, who led the three-member panel of the tribunal, said a date for judgement in the suit would be communicated to the parties.
On the part of Labour Party suit, the Appeal Court in Abuja recently ordered a rehearing of the petition.